Looking up at the cliff which drops from the end of Woodland Avenue onto McCauley’s beach, it seems impossible that houses could be built any closer to the rocky sand below.
Which is why nearby Thirroul residents have expressed shock over a new proposal for a luxury multi-level home and ocean-side pool which would be built down into the cliff face.
A development application before Wollongong City Council reveals ambitious plans to build a modern concrete and glass residence to the east of an existing home which is perched at the very end the street.
The top level of the new structure would be built at ground level, with the rest of the house will be tucked underneath. A spa and pool are proposed one level lower, even closer to the beach.
This week, Chris Gava joined a group of neighbours to express concerns about the plans, telling the Mercury she feared the building could end up like houses in Collaroy and Narrabeen, which were washed away in June’s east coast low.
Over the years, the long-time Woodland Avenue resident said erosion had eaten into land and the end of the street, which once housed a tennis court.
“It was a full-sized tennis court and it’s completely dropped down into the ocean,” Ms Gava said.
“I have concerns, because this house is going to be dug into the cliff and I’m worried its setting a precedent for our coastline.”
She said residents were also worried it would affect access and views from the neighbouring public reserve.
In documents submitted to the council, planners contended that the “fall of the land is not a constraint, as the dwelling had been designed to take into account this fall”.
Additionally, they said the house “does not impact on the natural and recreational attributes of the beach or headland area”.
“The proposed dwelling introduces a modern, coastal architecturally designed building in keeping with the coastal area,” the plans said.
The application acknowledges a council warning that the house would be built in the coastal zone, and would be affected by instability.
Geotechnical notes in the application highlight a landslip on the site in 2014, saying signs of instability such as “deep slope wash materials” were found below the cliff face.
The likelihood of a hazard occurring was assessed to be high, the application said, however the risk of the cliff face failing would be reduced to low if the proposed excavation retention system and footings for the development were carried out under geotechnical supervision.
The planners also said the site would be “stabilised to prevent erosion that has occurred”.